Paul Roberts – Chief Executive, Ashton Community Trust
Paul has been CEO of Ashton for 25 years during which time it has grown from a small community business into a highly successful regeneration social enterprise employing over 230 people in North Belfast. Ashton is involved in a wide range of community service delivery: childcare, employability, mental health, community development, youth services, arts, Fablab among others. Over 70% of employees are from the 20% most deprived wards. Ashton have built or purchased ten buildings in North Belfast including four childcare centres. Ashton has a strong asset base and is an important local employer.
North Belfast was the area worst hit by the conflict and Paul has led the organisation through death threats and gun attacks in the early years. He has very wide experience of business development, social innovation, lobbying skills and issues for social enterprises. Ashton won best NI Social Enterprise in 2013 and 2017. Paul was Social Enterprise Leader of the year 2012, runner-up in the UK awards and NI Third Sector Inspiring Leader in 2017. He has a master’s degree in Voluntary Sector Management.
Paul has been the main driver and inspiration for Ashton, an organisation that is delivering real and lasting benefits to local people.